Sleep Disorders - Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

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Dr. Nithin Jayan
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nithin Jayan, MBBS, DNB
Last Updated on Sep 25, 2014
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Classification of Sleep Disorders - Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where breathing comes to a stop during sleep.

It is a serious and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder in which the breathing temporarily stops during sleep (sleep apnea) due to the blockage of the upper airways. This can occur several times during sleep. These pauses in breathing interrupt the sleep, leading to repeated arousals from sleep or even a full awakening from sleep. Most people with sleep apnea do not remember these awakenings.

Repeated interruptions in breathing causes low levels of oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia), which can be harmful to both the heart and the brain.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include-

  • Loss of breathing in between the sleep
  • Waking up with shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, nasal congestion or dry throat
  • Loud snoring
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • The affected person may feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in productivity

Treatment of sleep apnea-

  • Sleep apnea can be successfully treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). It is a mask-like device that delivers a stream of air while asleep.
  • Losing weight
  • Elevating the head of the bed, and sleeping on the side can help in cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea

References:

  1. Coren, Stanley. Sleep Thieves: An Eye-Opening Exploration into the Science and Mysteries of Sleep. New York: The Free Press; 1996, p. 287.
  2. Sleep Disorders - (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/sleepdisorders.html)

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